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Dry bags are useful for those that are concerned about keeping gear as dry and protected as possible under very wet conditions. This article is going to cover a variety of dry bags from fanny packs to EMP-proof bags.
Advantages of Dry Bags
Seals completely so no moisture will be able to get in.
Dry bags protect electronics and valuable gear from exposure to inclement weather.
Dry bags make excellent food bags because they keep out moisture and insects and have straps that make them easy to hang for protection against bears and varmints.
You can even hang them in a tree with a rope if you need a good bear bag. Of course in some areas, the bears have become aggressive enough and more determined so some recommend using a bear-proof canister instead. A dry bag and rope worked just fine for us until recently. Bears have become wise and will do things like chomp through branches to literally go out on very tiny limbs if it means getting at food or something deliciously smelly.
If moisture is present insides a dry bag when it is sealed, it can lead to mildew and other issues.
If a bag gets a hole in it, there is no easy way to repair it.
A hole usually means throwing out the bag or using it in a manner where 100% waterproof and submersible is not the most important thing.
Dry bags come in a variety of sizes. Remember that you have to roll them down and clip them to seal so a bag may look bigger when you first see it then it actually is. The real amount you can fit in a dry bag is far less.
Many people choose to have dry bags in multiple sizes to suit a variety of needs. Since many of them come in a variety of colors you can even organize based on a color scheme. For example, I have a smaller bright orange dry bag that we often use for a medical kit bag when canoeing.
Dry bags can help you keep clothing and shoes dry when out on the trail.
This can make a big difference in terms of your ability to survive. Hypothermia is no joke and it can happen even when outdoor temps are 60 degrees and it is a nice spring day.
Like any piece of gear, you can pay a little or a lot for a dry bag. On the high end are brands like Yeti which in my own opinion, is one of the most overpriced outdoor gear brands out there for what you get. On the low end are brands that most people have never heard of. In general, you can get a perfectly good dry bag in the $20-$80 range depending on the size and style. Backpack dry bags often cost more because of all the additional features and straps. A standard roll-top dry bag is going to be a better deal and you can always get one that is large enough to totally line the inside of your existing backpack.
The thickness of a dry bag is important. Thinner bags are more prone to punctures and abrasion over time. Thickness is one factor that can determine the price of some bags.
Buying a set of dry bags can sometimes be the best deal overall if you can get a set from a decent brand.
Fanny pack style dry bags
These are often used by people that want a way to carry their keys, cell phone, and a few other items on their person. They can be a great way to keep some items close at hand when on the trail and I can see how it might be nice to have some easy to access waterproof storage on your person if you have to evacuate during an emergency or bug out for an unknown period of time.
Our Dry Bag Picks
Piscifun Waterproof Pouch with Waist Strap
Earth Pak Waterproof Duffel Bag
Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag
Piscifun Waterproof Pouch with Waist Strap
This is a basic and affordable pouch that goes around your waist or attaches to another bag if needed. While it is small it is still large enough to hold your phone, car keys, and some cash or cards. Even if you have another dry bag, it can be handy to have one of these for keeping some items very close to you. Those that walk or jog often use these dry bags but I could see having one in addition to a 72-hour bag in case of an emergency. Some things you just need to get to fast and a pouch like this can really help with that.
Aquapac Waterproof Waist Pack
This is a serious waist pack for those want something easy to carry and tough enough to withstand a real downpour or being dropped into the water and fully submerged. It is made to hold more than a standard waterproof pouch or fanny pack that can just take care of a phone, cash, cards, and keys. To seal it you roll it down three times for ultimate waterproof protection. The bag is made of tough 500D vinyl. An outer quick-access pocket is splashproof so any items you want to be able to get to really fast can still enjoy some great protection.
MCleanPin Waterproof Fanny Pack
This bag is unique because although it is made to attach to you fanny pack style, it will also stand up thanks to the wide bottom. No more having to lean your bag against something just to avoid having everything come tumbling out. The back version cannot be seen through and reminds me of a typical handbag in many ways. For those that want to be able to spot their bag well, the orange version would be a good choice but it is also semi-transparent so not a good choice for privacy.
Backpack Style Dry Bags
These are for those that like backpacks and just want a single bag with organizational capabilities. People that like to get out on a boat a lot during the day, kayak, fish, etc, may like to have this style of bag. Of course, if you are fishing you are going to want another bag for a lot of the actual fishing gear because hooks and other fishing gear certainly don’t mix well, but these are good bags for packing everything else in.
If you like to get to the beach for some downtime, they also come in very handy and keep your electronics and other gear dry and safe.
Piscifun Wrapper Dry Backpack with Waterproof Phone Case 50 L
MIER Waterproof Dry Backpack
BRU Active Premium 40l Dry Bag PVC – Tactical Waterproof Backpack
This is by far the most tactical dry bag on the list. It stands out as different because of all the outside Molle storage. For those that want a bag that can take on a lot of situations, the BRU Active may be the answer. The outside Molle pouches allow for easy access and organization of items that you need to get to more regularly while the inner dry bag compartment offers a lot of waterproof storage for electronic devices, a gun, clothing, etc. The padded back and sturdy straps make it a pack that is actually comfortable to hike with for an extended period of time. The Molle system also allows you to customize where your storage is located. Waist and chest straps keep the bag secured to you and more comfortable to wear.
Duffel Bag Dry Bags
For longer trips and excursions, a duffel bag dry bag may be the answer. All that I have been able to find features two methods of carrying and many of them come in different sizes so you can choose the one that best suits your needs for travel or other adventures.
MIER Waterproof Dry Duffel Bag
The Mier duffle has a lot of points for attaching other gear to the outside or strapping it down when needed. This is a feature that I did not see on a lot of duffle style dry bags. Some people use these for packing gear on motorcycles or utility vehicles. If you were bugging out on a motorcycle, I could see how something like this would be good for keeping items organized and dry and easy to grab and take with you where ever needed.
Earth Pak Waterproof Duffel Bag
The Earth Pak is a more budget-friendly dry duffle bag. It lacks a few of the features that the Mier has such as more areas for strapping other gear or strapping the bag down. This may not be a big factor for everyone but it is one of the major differences I noticed.
Classic Dry Bags
These bags are the most common dry bags you will find. They are round and have a single opening at the top. Many have no extra pockets or straps but a few have some additional features. They usually have rings at the top that allow you to attach a strap or carabiner if desired.
Sea To Summit Big River Bag
Sea to Summit offers a very high-quality line of dry bags. Considering how many dry bags out there that are over $100, the Sea To Summit line is a bargain for the quality and durability. It is also worth noting the range of sizes they offer to suit different needs. They are made of heavy-duty & abrasion resistant TPU laminated Nylon fabric. I do have to say that these bags are not designed to be submerged for a long period of time. The manufacturer warns against this but as long as they are properly sealed, they are going to float well.
They are made to keep water out when doing outdoor activities and in wet conditions. At the same time, I read a lot of reviews and several people reported that their bag had floated down a river or been dropped out of a boat and everything inside was still dry.
Z ZTARX Soul Gear Roll Top Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack 10L/20L
This dry bag is being included because it is a bit different than other dry bags because it has a 3 watt Bluetooth capable speaker built into it and lights as well. You also get a cell phone case. The speaker can be charged with the solar panel while out on the water. There are also lights inside that can make the bag light up and serve as a marker on the water.
Reviews indicate that it keeps things nice and dry. This may be a cool dry bag for kids and teens or just those that like to get outdoors near water. I wouldn’t have it for my main dry bag because I prefer something plainer but it is kind of a neat bag in its own way.
SealLine Baja Dry Bag
Matt and I actually own three of these dry bags in different sizes. We have owned them for years and they have always performed very well. I highly recommend them for those that want a simple and reasonably priced dry bag. I have never experienced any moisture or bugs getting into this bag. they are easy to roll and fasten and they are made of thick 1,000D 19 oz. Scrim-reinforced vinyl with a heavy-duty 1,000D 30 oz. Scrim-reinforced vinyl bottom. I admit when I bought them I expected to get a hole in them during one of our camping or canoeing excursions but many years later they are still as solid as ever.
NRS 110L Bill’s Bag Dry Bag
This bag is made of heavy-duty 21 oz PVC/polyester body with a reinforced bottom of 34 oz PVC. The downside is the cost. This company has been around since the late 70s and has a strong following. This is a really big bag so it is not set up so that you can reach in and grab whatever you want without having to root around a bit. For a main dry bag on a long trip, it would be great but I would also have a smaller bag for items I needed to reach more often or quickly.
Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
This lightweight dry bag is a good choice for those that want affordable waterproof storage. This is more suitable for brief trips or for putting in an existing bag for added water resistance. The bag is made of waterproof nylon. This bag is good but not as abrasion-resistant as some of the heavier and thicker PVC/polyester varieties. While some use these bags to float behind a kayak or similar, I would not trust a nylon bag for that heavy of a duty. For general purposes, it will serve you well.
Mission Darkness Dry Shield Faraday Tote 15L
This bag is made in the USA and designed to totally block any electronic signals from reaching anything in your bag. It is designed to protect your devices from any EMP related damages. It features a transparent front pocket for holding small items. Please note that the clear pocket is the one section that is not EMP proof. The bag is made of 500D PVC outer material and two layers of high-shielding TitanRF Faraday Fabric on all interior sides with dual paired seam construction.
While this bag is on the high end for the size you get, for those that are worried about EMPs or the possibility of having any electronic information stolen, it may be a bag to look at. You could incorporate this into a bug out bag or use it for protecting your work laptop, communications radios, and more.
Taking Care Of A Dry Bag
While it may seem like you don’t need to do anything. there are a few things to remember when caring for a dry bag. After any period of use, you may want to wipe down the inside of your bag with antibacterial wipes. Make sure to hang the bag up and allow it to dry completely before storing it.
Wiping down the bag will reduce any odors and eliminate bacteria that may be in there from items you stored during a trip. It is especially important to wipe down bags that have had damp or very dirty items stored in them.
If you must store something that has any keen edges, make sure to wrap other items such as clothing around it to avoid puncturing your bag and ruining it entirely.
Avoid overloading your bag if you are using it as a food bag and hanging in a tree.
Even the best bag has its limitations. Overloading a bag and leaving it hanging can lead to damage that is not repairable. It is better to distribute food into several bags and hang them both then to ruin your nice dry bags. We bring strong trash bags to put any food wrappers or similar in so we don’t have to put any of that in our dry bags. It is fairly easy to hang a garbage bag next to a food bag. This may not be the best option for those that are on longer trips but for a few days out on the trail, it seems to work just fine.
Getting a good seal on your bag involves taking the time to close it properly. Practice and test your bag out at home.
Even the best dry bag needs to be rolled up and sealed the right way to prevent water from getting in. If you are new to dry bags, or if you have a new one, it wouldn’t hurt to try it out before you go out on a trip. Put some clothing in it and seal it up. Stick it in a tub of water or hose it down really well and see if any water gets in. It is far better to practice sealing it a few times than to take it out and ruin something you care about due to user error.
What dry bags have you found to be a good buy? Have you found any of the bags featured in this article to be particularly bad?